Stop me if you’ve heard this before: I went 2-1 last night with my free MLB picks. Through four nights of picking games, I have yet to enjoy a perfect night, but I’ve also earned a profit each and every night.
Last night was the biggest sweat of the season – by far. None of the wins came easy, although the loss was a thorough one.
Let’s begin with that loss in a matchup between the Cubs and Reds. I teetered on whether to take the under or the Reds on the moneyline, but I had plenty of faith in both Kyle Hendricks and Sonny Gray to do their thing and get deep into the ball game.
That only ended up being the case for Gray as Hendricks went just 4.1 innings while Gray dominated for 6.2 frames – allowing just two unearned runs while punching out 11.
Hendricks was not nearly the same pitcher that pitched a complete-game shutout on Opening Day, as he was charged with six earned runs in his outing, although four of those earned runs came via a Nicholas Castellanos grand slam that was actually surrendered by reliever Rex Brothers, but the runners were Hendricks’ responsibility.
From there, the shaky bullpens noted in yesterday’s piece went on to allow another five runs apiece in a Reds 12-5 blowout of the Cubs. That’s an L if I’ve ever seen one.
It got much better from there, albeit in dramatic fashion on both occasions.
The Tigers got down 4-0 as Matt Boyd struggled again in his five innings of work, but the Tigers’ bullpen held it from there while the offense stormed back, capped by a seventh-inning JaCoby Jones go-ahead homer that gave the Tigers a 5-4 lead they would not relinquish.
Much later in the night, we got another win with the Dodgers on the moneyline. That said, we waited a while for this one as it went 13 innings before Edwin Rios hit a go-ahead two-run homer to dive the Dodgers a 4-2 lead while Dennis Santana’s 2.1 innings of scoreless work – with a runner on second to start every extra-inning – capped the Dodgers win and two-game sweep of the Astros.
It took an elevated heartbeat, however we once again went 2-1, this time notching 0.77 units in profit as we move onto tonight’s MLB action!
Season Record: 8-4
Now let’s take a look at this free MLB pick featuring the Indians vs. Twins in an AL Central matchup from Target Field in Minnesota!
Indians vs. Twins Betting Odds
- Indians (+110)
- Twins (-120)
- Indians +1.5 (-195)
- Twins -1.5 (+170)
- Over 8.5 (-103)
- Under 8.5 (-117)
Indians vs. Twins MLB Pick Breakdown
Pitching Matchup: Bieber (CLE, 1-0, 0.00 ERA/-0.60 FIP) vs. Berrios (MIN, 0-0, 11.25 ERA/6.57 FIP)
It’s a dandy of a pitching matchup tonight in Minny as both clubs send their Opening Day starters to the mound, but Bieber was the one who delivered an epic performance to kick off the 2020 MLB season.
In a matchup with the Royals, Bieber hurled six innings of shutout baseball, allowing four hits and one walk all while striking out a whopping 14. Bieber was in complete control of the Royals’ hitters and made them look silly, as per this at-bat below.
Shane Bieber. Reported. Bullying. pic.twitter.com/Q6lfTokSbw
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 25, 2020
Bieber made a nice impression with a 4.55 ERA in his 114.2 innings in the 2018 season, but his stout 3.23 FIP and 3.30 xFIP – with an 1.81 BB/9 – suggested he was much better than that surface ERA indicated.
Indeed, Bieber made the jump all the way to AL Cy Young contender last season, turning in a 3.28 ERA/3.32 FIP to go along with a 10.68 K/9 clip and an even better 1.68 BB/9.
The strikeout numbers were never huge in the minor leagues, but Bieber has always demonstrated elite command – and now that the electric stuff is turning into a boatload of strikeouts, teams are going to be in trouble with this 25-year-old right-hander for a long, long time.
Bieber owns a 4.14 career ERA versus the Twins in seven starts and eight appearances spanning 45.2 innings while pitching to a 4.71 ERA in three starts and four appearances at Target Field in 21 frames.
While Bieber enjoyed a fabulous start to his 2020 season, the same cannot be said for Berrios, albeit against stiffer competition.
Berrios kicked off his 2020 campaign in a start against the re-built Chicago White Sox offense that teed off for five earned runs on seven hits – including a homer – across just four innings. Berrios managed just one strikeout in that outing.
Plenty of pitchers are likely to have their fair share of struggles with what looks like a potent White Sox lineup, but it’s not the start Berrios had in mind coming off a 3.68 ERA/3.85 FIP with a career-high 4.4 fWAR from the 2019 season.
He’s pitched well in his career with the Indians, however, turning in a 3.92 ERA in 11 starts and 62 innings against the Tribe while he’s usually reliable at home in the form of a 3.68 ERA in 288.1 career frames at Target Field.
After taking both ends of the Tuesday’s double-header with the White Sox, the Indians’ offense was stymied by White Sox ace Lucas Giolito and the Sox bullpen who held the Indians scoreless on six hits in their 4-0 loss last night.
The Indians’ offense was never going to be the strong point of their team – that belongs to the pitching staff – and that’s more or less been the case so far as their .300 wOBA ranks them 19th in the league while they have hit for much power in the form of a .113 ISO that ranks 26th to this point.
The Indians’ offense came on strong in the second half of the 2019 season on the back of a Jose Ramirez resurgence and additions such as Yasiel Puig and Franmil Reyes to an outfield that struggled offensively, but this is certainly a less-than-inspiring start to the season for the offense while the pitching staff has carried them to their 4-2 start to the season.
No worries here with this Twins offense that’s largely the same group that set a new MLB record with 307 home runs a season ago.
While regression could have been anticipated based on the fact nearly every Twins regular enjoyed a career-year last year they’ve been pretty much as advertised in their 4-1 start to the season.
The Twins are tied for ninth with a .331 wOBA while their .206 ISO checks in at sixth. They scored just three runs in last night’s win and have been cooled off some since scoring 27 runs in their season-opening set with the White Sox, but rest assured that this deep Twins offense should slug it out with the best of em’ this season.
After the Indians finished the 2019 season ranked third with a 3.76 bullpen ERA, that group uncharacteristically cost them a game in last night’s loss to the White Sox.
Tied at zero heading into the ninth, Indians closer Brad Hand allowed one hit one walk and one hit batter in allowing four runs – three earned – in just one-third of an inning while Adam Cimber was unable to come in and prevent the inherited runs from scoring.
Even after the tough night last night, the Indians sit seventh with a 2.81 bullpen ERA on the season and sixth with a 2.50 FIP in 16 innings of work.
Hand has now pitched in consecutive days after closing out game one of Tuesday’s double-header, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if he wasn’t available in this one tonight.
The Twins sported perhaps the most underrated bullpen in the game last season.
Their bullpen ERA of 4.17 was good enough for 10th in the league, but a closer look revealed that their 3.92 FIP was the best mark in baseball while their 7.4 fWAR ranked second behind only the Rays (7.7) and Yankees (7.6) while those two bullpens threw far more innings than that of the Twins’.
The group hasn’t gotten off to the best start this season, however. They were roughed up as part of that high-scoring, season-opening set with the White Sox and enter this one sporting a 4.29 ERA/5.11 FIP. They’ve struck out a whopping 13.29 batters per nine innings, but have also allowed 2.57 HR/9 as well.
The Twins also used their go-to arms in last night’s 3-0 win over the Cardinals, so it’s no sure thing those arms will be available tonight while the likes of Tyler Clippard and Sergio Romo have pitched each of the last two nights.
To me, there’s a couple ways to go here.
A weak Indians offense presents Berrios with a nice opportunity to bounce back, especially at home. That said, he’s not the best pitcher starting this game. That belongs to Bieber who currently looks the part of a top-three pitcher in the American League at this point.
Both teams should end up with quality bullpens, but the bullpen comparisons are difficult at this juncture in the season as teams are reluctant to overwork their relievers following a very short summer camp.
There’s absolutely zero doubt that the Twins sport the superior offense, but the run projections, as per FantasyLabs, are almost identical with the Twins at 4.4 versus the Indians’ 4.2 mark.
At the end of the day, I can’t help but watch what Bieber has done over the last season and change and not see value in his team’s +110 odds at this point.
Rarely will Bieber be an underdog on the moneyline, so I think it’s in our best interest to take advantage of that and look for the Indians to win this one as slight road dogs tonight.